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Philosophy and Attachment -- Why Findings Shouldn't Be Attached To

Updated: Feb 23

A flaying machine.

Between Attachment and Doubt

Since humans are creatures of emotion, we often find ourselves attached to things, be they concrete objects or abstract ideas. This attachment, while comforting, can become a double-edged sword. It can make letting go, even when necessary, a painful and difficult process. This is especially true for philosophers, who face the unique challenge of remaining objective in their pursuit of truth.

Imagine a philosopher who has meticulously crafted a complex ideology, a complex of thought built on years of contemplation. This ideology, once a source of intellectual pride, can become a prison, like the mind. The very act of questioning it, of admitting its potential flaws, can like a betrayal of the self who worked so much on it. This is a philosopher's flaw: the very pursuit of truth can be hindered by the attachment to a specific belief system, when it proves to be false.

The challenge is further worsened when encountering those whose beliefs are deeply ingrained in their identity. Such example are the devoutly religious, whose belief can compete with the exploration of ideas, allowed by democracy. For them, their faith is not merely a set of propositions; it is the very fabric of their being. A challenge to their religion is not just an intellectual debate; it is an "attack" on their core identity, their sense of self. This is why discussions with the very religious can be so emotionally charged, like discussions related to gay pride.

This is where philosophy distinguishes itself from religion, as the latter can easily be used for manipulation, or the distortion of the truth. While both seek answers, their approaches are fundamentally different. Religion often provides ready-made answers, offering comfort and belonging. Philosophy, on the other hand, is a journey without a predetermined destination. It is a constant questioning, a relentless pursuit of truth, regardless of how unsettling that truth may be. It has the power to affect us differently from religion, and pursuing it can be more painful.

And yet, the philosopher may love wisdom because love is also expressed by the essence of loyalty. And as such, love is more than a mere feeling, but also a morality system. And morality stems from logic, not from mere emotion.

The philosopher is not a soldier defending a fixed position, but an explorer venturing into uncharted territory. He or she is too dynamic and independent to not question their own beliefs. Their identity is not tied to their findings, for the truth they seek is not a static monument but an industrial complex, constantly reconstructing and revealing new facets, challenging previously held assumptions. To be a good philosopher is to embrace this constant state of doubt, to be comfortable with the unknown, and to be prepared to be proven wrong.

So, let us not confuse the philosopher with the zealot, the seeker with the defender. The philosopher's path is one of intellectual humility, a willingness to surrender cherished beliefs for the sake of a clearer understanding. However fleeting and ever-changing, or even boring it may be, good philosophers must doubt as much as possible, and be attached to ideas, as little as possible.

The Philosopher's Journey

The philosophical journey, though often solitary, is ultimately a shared exploration, should the philosopher decide being a public figure. As a philosopher, you act as a guide, leading your audience through the intricate paths of thought, but you too are a fellow voyager on this odyssey. You are not necessarily a guru.

This shared exploration is precisely what imbues philosophical discussions with their inherent dynamism and, yes, sometimes, their exhausting nature. Unlike the swift, definitive answers offered by a Google search, philosophy thrives in the realm of the open-ended, the ever-elusive. This very lack of clear destinations can be perceived as tedious, even pointless, by those unaccustomed to its long-winded ways. This is another example as to why you shouldn't attach much emotion to philosophical discourse: You will get unnecessarily frustrated and angry, unecessarily making such discourse too hard on yourself.

The philosopher is best to be like a leader: Manage their resources with little emotion. Manage them in a calculated way, not in a dramatic, desperate attitude. Philosophy isn't originated to excite. It is meant to research reality with or without what said research makes us feel, AKA, post-truth. As such, the philosopher, like the competent leader, is best to be ruthless, first of all, towards themselves. That way, their journey can further advance, with far less mental obstacles in their way.

The philosopher's quarry is not a fixed target, easily identifiable and readily captured. It is more elusive as the root of all wisdom, as symbolized by Socrates, is the recognition of one's ignorance. You are know you are seeking something, and yet, you do not know exactly what you will find, if you'll find anything at all. What you set out to hunt as a deer may turn out to be a moose. You might even not find anything, and return to your home hungry for the night. The truth, in the philosophical arena, plays the role of a nimble ninja, constantly shifting, challenging established notions, and leading you down ever-evolving paths in its mysterious ways.

This fluidity necessitates a certain level of detachment, both from your audience and from yourself. Irrelevant pronouncements about your supposed arrogance, for instance, must be cast aside as mere distractions, for the pursuit of truth transcends personal sentiments. It is here that philosophy reveals its kinship with science, demanding the cold, hard tools of logic and reason to dissect fallacies and arrive at conclusions, however unsettling they may be.

This commitment to truth can often render open philosophical discussions a minefield of offended sensibilities. We humans, generally, tend to resist challenges to our cherished beliefs, especially when those beliefs are intricately woven into our identities, causing cognitive dissoance when the truth stands in their path. Proposing the absence of souls or disputing a six-day creation myth can trigger emotional responses, even though such challenges are not personal attacks, but simply explorations of alternative paths.

In this age of instant gratification and online echo chambers, where emotions run high and arguements can be preferred much more over discussions, genuine philosophical discourse becomes an even rarer commodity. A discourse that is very much clean from the many logical fallacies and biases that govern our mentality, and where better understanding is the main point, than the point of being right over the other. Put emotions in it and you will suffer unnecessarily over the mere exchange of ideas, which can be synthetized to forge a clearer understanding.

Navigating this labyrinth demands not only intellectual rigor but also a certain degree of emotional resilience. It requires to take criticism like a professional, which isn't always easy. The philosopher must be prepared to shed preconceived notions, withstand personal outrages, and embrace the humbling reality that the truth, like the labyrinth itself, has no end, only winding paths leading ever deeper into the unknown.

This metaphorical labyrinth is infinite because we can never be omniscient.

The Philosopher's Armor

The path of the philosopher is paved with possible paradox: It demands of us a profound immersion in ideas, yet a simultaneous detachment from their allure. We must wear an armor forged of reason, shielding our hearts from the intoxicating embrace of cherished beliefs.

Our ideologies, those meticulously constructed hallmarks of thought, are not trophies to be admired, but vessels on which we embark upon our intellectual odyssey. They are the means, not the ends. No matter how much support they will get, everything is prone to be wronged by the most profound thinkers of present and future.

“If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist".

Our findings, however meticulously arrived at, may not be met with universal acclaim. Hearts and minds, attached to the familiar shores of established beliefs, may resist the unsettling tug of new currents. We must anticipate protest with understanding. For those who challenge us are not necessarily our adversaries, but fellow voyagers who may have happened to think differently than us. Instead of choosing being offended by them, why not seize the opportunity to understand why you may be wrong, and why they may be right?

In conclusion: Let us cast aside the shackles of sentiment, equipping, instead, the armor of reason. Let our chariots of ideology carry us, not to pedestals of self-satisfaction, but to the ever-evolving landscapes of understanding. For in the grand, constantly-growing fields of knowledge, we are but mere seekers, building intellectual, "industrial complexes" in order to produce findings towards truth. We best be forever seeking, forever sharing, and when correct -- forever transforming in accordance to said findings.

And the point of understanding the many, default flaws in our thinking, is to understand what not to use, in these metaphorical "complexes". Any attachment to the resources we use to synthesize and produce insights, can reduce their overall quality.

Critique by Ms. Tamara Moskal:

The problem with detachment lies in the fact that emotions are part of the human core, the part that makes us human and thus very important. Strip of emotions, and guided only by logic, we would loose the essence of our existence, as to feel means to be human, to be alive and to have soul.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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